Phil Elverum already hinted at a new Mount Eerie album, but today the former Microphones mastermind officially announced the news and released a first single, the heart-wrenching “Real Death.” A Crow Looked at Me is out March 24 on Elverum’s own label, P.W. Elverum & Sun.
The new record follows a tough year for Elverum. His wife, the artist and musician Geneviève Castrée, died of cancer in July 2016. She’s survived by the couple’s toddler daughter, who was born not long before Castrée’s diagnosis. In a statement about the new album, Elverum explained his decision to open up about his family’s personal tragedy:
Why share this much? Why open up like this? Why tell you, stranger, about these personal moments, the devastation and the hanging love? Our little family bubble was so sacred for so long. We carefully held it behind a curtain of privacy when we’d go out and do our art and music selves, too special to share, especially in our hyper-shared imbalanced times. Then we had a baby and this barrier felt even more important. (I still don’t want to tell you our daughter’s name.) In May 2015 they told us Geneviève had a surprise bad cancer, advanced pancreatic, and the ground opened up. ‘What matters now?’ we thought. Then on July 9th 2016 she died at home and I belonged to nobody anymore. My internal moments felt like public property. The idea that I could have a self or personal preferences or songs eroded down into an absurd old idea leftover from a more self-indulgent time before I was a hospital-driver, a caregiver, a child-raiser, a griever. I am open now, and these songs poured out quickly in the fall, watching the days grey over and watching the neighbors across the alley tear down and rebuild their house. I make these songs and put them out into the world just to multiply my voice saying that I love her. I want it known.
DEATH IS REAL could be the name of this album. These cold mechanics of sickness and loss are real and inescapable, and can bring an alienating, detached sharpness. But it is not the thing I want to remember. A crow did look at me. There is an echo of Geneviève that still rings, a reminder of the love and infinity beneath all of this obliteration. That’s why.
Hear “Real Death” and peruse the track list for A Crow Looked at Me below. If you can’t wait to hear another song, the album’s closing track, “Crow,” appears on a new indie compilation benefiting the ACLU.